And She’s Off….

Bettina greyhound in racing gear
Her Highness, the Crown Regent of Fussypants experienced one of life’s “firsts” not too long ago. After spending her early years training hard to be a racing greyhound she never got to fulfill that potential. She was sent to a racetrack in Rhode Island but before she got her maiden race under her belt, they up and closed the track on her. For reasons I have been puzzling over (and rejoicing over) since she joined our family, they opted not to ship her to another track. After all that feeding, care and training, they retired her from racing before her career even began. Miss Bettina found herself at the greyhound rescue kennel at the tender age of 18 months.

In looking at her pedigree online, I noted that of the puppies in her litter (5) only one ever raced at all. And that one pup had only a couple races under his belt. At various times during our early life together I observed that Bettina had a strange running gait. It also quickly became apparent that she was EXTREMELY stubborn. And, much to Blue’s chagrin, she could be aggressive and frankly a bit of a bully. Any of these things I figured may have been part of the determination to put her out to pasture without a single race.

Basenjiis at starting box
I have never had such a young greyhound on my hands before. She has energy to spare so I began to cast about for some activity that could tap that endless well. Maine, unfortunately, is a bit of a wasteland when it comes to competition type activities with your dog. We have no lure coursing organizations. Rally obedience is just barely beginning to catch on here and events are few and far away. There is little in the way of organized agility. We do have a fairly robust flyball group but I couldn’t see Bettina doing that.

After much research on the internet trying to find a lure coursing group that was within 2 days travel time, I stumbled across Granite State Greyhounds. This club conducts amateur straight racing under the auspices of the Large Gazehound Racing Association. I had heard of straight racing, but really had no idea what to expect. Still, hoping I could find Bettina an outlet before she found one for herself that I didn’t care for, I made contact with the group. The race meets were held at a location that was about 2 hours from our house.

Bettina greyhound wins heat
At the end of March, on a Saturday that started out with a little snow and ended with a sunny and warm afternoon, Blue, Bettina and I got up far too early in the morning and headed south. We had no trouble finding the field and proceeded to muddle our way through our first race meet.

There were a lot of different sight hounds there to race and almost all the people I met were incredibly welcoming and kind to us newbies. The Race Secretary was wonderfully patient as we tried to figure out where to go and what to do. I’m sure many people found us very amusing. We showed up with a racing muzzle about 3 sizes too big for Bettina. Of course I had not noticed that before I proudly presented our racing muzzle for inspection. We also had no racing coats. The kids had on one of their many dress martingale collars since we wanted to make a good impression. At the end of one of the races, I grabbed Bettina by the collar and she managed to slip out of it. She wasn’t going anywhere but back on top of that lure, but I ended up tackling her just to be safe.
Blue greyhound by starting box
Someone came to our rescue by retrieving Bettina’s collar which I had dropped in the tackling process. I was flat on my back with a 60 pound dervish on top of me and thus in no position to do this myself. It was around that time that I was informed that those “fancy collars” were frowned upon in this venue.

With a muzzle and coat on loan from the club, we managed to stumble our way through a full day of racing. I went there with no real expectations for Bettina’s performance. She is, certainly, not in top racing condition and we were just coming off a full winter of little to no activity. Yet as the day wore on and Bettina raced pretty well, I admit I began to harbor some small hopes for her ranking and I began coveting one of those massive fancy ribbons that they were awarding at the end of the day. I may have become a teensy weensy bit caught up in the competitiveness of it all as well, but I did manage to avoid excessive displays of joy or poor sportsmanship.

Final posting
In the end, Bettina placed 6th out of a field of 12 greyhounds. Bettina could certainly care less where she placed. She just wanted to get back in that box and chase that lure again. And again. And again. Blue, having been judged too old to race peed in my car to express his disgust with this determination. But at the very end of the day they did give him a practice run on his own. My old man still has it in him and he’s in pretty good shape for an 8 year old. He gave that lure a run for its money.

After our triumphant day at the races, we came right home and mumma ordered Bettina a proper fitting racing muzzle. I ordered one for Blue as well to perpetuate his (and my) illusion that he’s not getting older. I tried to find some racing coats to order. There weren’t a lot of places to get them and we were looking at paying between $60-$100 for a full set of 4. Mumma thinks she may have a go at sewing Bettina her racing coats. Luckily, Miss Bean can’t complain about having something homemade and really wanting something store bought to impress all her friends. Now if I can just keep myself from becoming one of those overbearing stage mummas…Tally Ho!


  1. Sounds like the retired racing world is much different than the retired couch potato world. None of that froufrou stuff. Is Bettina in training for her next race?

    1. She is indeed in training for the next meet in mid-May.

  2. What fun! Looking forward to hearing future adventures.

  3. This was the sport Luna and I were exploring in the fall. She had a blast and I'm sure your guys will too. Just as an extra precaution, make sure you know where the closest emergency vet is and how to get there from the field. I didn't think I would every need it and I was wrong. I can't wait to hear more about their new hobby.

    1. Thanks for the tip. That point was brought home to us very clearly when two greyhounds were injured, one pretty seriously, during the day we were there. Both from the same family. That family did not have a good day. But you're right, VERY important to know where the closest E-vet is!


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